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The University of Southampton
Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton

Research Group: Palaeoceanography and Palaeoclimate

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Understanding past changes in the Earth System provides the essential context for future climate prediction. Southampton’s Palaeoceanography and Palaeoclimate research group is big and active with a critical mass of around 60 academics, post-doctoral researchers and PhD students and a suite of state-of-the-art geochemical, micropalaeontological, core-processing and numerical modeling facilities. Our research is global in scope. We work in all ocean basins on key problems in Earth history spanning the Anthropocene to the Palaeozoic.  

Group Overview

Our specific research strengths include:

JOIDES Resolution
JOIDES Resolution
  • the development, calibration, and quantitative application of new research tools
  • past ocean circulation, temperature, and continental ice volume (sea level)
  • the history of biogeochemical cycling and global biodiversity
  • high frequency climate change on seasonal through centennial time scales
  • past changes in regional and global carbon cycling, including ocean acidity and atmospheric CO2 levels
  • ecological/palaeocological applications of foraminifera

Contact: Professor Paul Wilson

Key aspects of the Research Group

(i) A critical mass (~60) of staff, post-docs, PhD students
(ii) A world-class suite of stable isotope, trace metal and SEM laboratories
(iii) Organic Geochemistry and Superconducting Rock Magnetometry laboratories

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The Palaeoceanography and Palaeoclimate Research Group is equipped with state-of-the-art research laboratories.

These laboratories are used for a wide range of research purposes and upper level project work.

Palaeomagnetism and Environmental Magnetism Laboratory

The Palaeomagnetism and Environmental Magnetism Laboratory houses a list of state-of-the-art instrumentation as well as a shielded room to support palaeomagnetism, rock and mineral magnetism, magnetic stratigraphy and palaeoenvironmental-related research. With instruments including a Princeton Measurements Corporation MicroMag 3900 Vibrating Sample Magnetometer and an AGICO KLY4S Kappabridge, magnetic properties of samples can be studied in detail at a range of temperatures to determine the concentration, grain size and mineralogy of magnetic particles in samples. A 2G Enterprises Superconducting Rock Magnetometer provides the capability to rapidly and accurately measure the natural and various laboratory-induced magnetic remanence for continuous and discrete samples. For further information, contact Dr Chuang Xuan, tel: +44 (0)23 8059 6401.

Stable Isotope Ratio Mass-Spectrometry (SIRMS) Laboratory

The SIRMS laboratory was established in 1998 with NERC, HEFCE-SRIF and ESSO funds. The facilities function is the measurement of stable isotope ratios of various materials including 13C and 18O in carbonates (sediments and foraminifera), 13C and 15N in organic materials (plankton and soils), 18O in water samples and deuterium in water samples. For further information, contact Bastian Hambach, tel: +44 (0)23 8059 6573, Professor Paul Wilson, tel: +44 (0)23 8059 6164 or  Dr Steven Bohaty, tel: +44 (0)23 8059 3040.

Scanning Electron Microscope Laboratory

The Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) facility was established in 2001, originally funded by NERC, the University of Southampton and Carl Zeiss SMT Ltd, to support high-resolution palaeoceanographical, palaeoclimatic and palaeoenvironmental research. The instrumentation includes a Leo 1450VP SEM and an Oxford Instruments X-Act 10mm2 area SDD EDS Detector, utilising the AZtecEnergy software system. A range of services are offered, including secondary electron and backscattered electron imaging, automated image acquisition, elemental mapping and qualitative and quantitative elemental spot analysis. Museum and other sensitive specimens can be safely imaged or chemically analysed using the SEM variable pressure (VP) mode.

The SEM facility is a research and teaching resource available for use by staff, postgraduate students and final year undergraduate students. The facility is also available for use by staff in other university departments and commercial clients. We have expertise in the examination of geological, metallurgical and some biological materials. For further information, contact Dr Richard Pearce, tel: +44 (0)23 8059 6477/6518.

X-Ray Diffraction Laboratory

The X-Ray Diffraction (XRD) facility located at NOCS provides a service for the qualitative or quantitative analysis of rock samples to determine bulk mineralogy and/or clay mineralogy. Samples are run on a Philips X'Pert pro XRD machine with a Cu X-ray tube. Mineral identification is undertaken using the JC PDS (powder diffraction studies) database. For further information, contact Dr Richard Pearce, tel: +44 (0)23 8059 6477.

Organic Geochemistry and Compound Specific Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry

The new Organic Geochemistry Facility, part of the SEAPORT Carbon Laboratories, represents a major expansion of the geochemical capabilities at the University of Southampton. Led by Dr Jessica Whiteside the Facility is housed in new, purpose built laboratory spaces and hosts a variety of new instruments designed to comprehensively characterize organic matter from the environment and the geological record. The facility has dedicated sample preparation lab, wet chemistry lab space, and an instrumentation lab utilizing state of the art automated gas and liquid chromatographs linked to various mass spectrometers, including a GC-isotope ratio mass spectrometer. For further information please contact Dr Jessica Whiteside or Dr Sargent Bray.


Postgraduate opportunities

PhD Project Titles

Evolution of Antarctic circumpolar circulation and high-latitude climate: new insights from the Southwest Atlantic Ocean
Dr Steve Bohaty, Dr Claus-Dieter Hillenbrand (British Antarctic Survey), Dr Richard Boardman (UoS, Engineering and the Environment, µ-VIS X-Ray Imaging Centre)

Abrupt climate change during the last deglaciation: linking records from Greenland to central Europe
Prof Alan Kemp, Prof Pete Langdon (UoS, Geography)

Archaeology and Volcanism in Northern Japan; Combing tephrachronology with sediment metabarcoding
Prof Tony Brown (UoS, Geog & Env), Prof Paul Hughes (UoS, Geog & Env)

Aridity in the Greater Middle East: palaeoclimate insights into human-induced climate change and the history of our hominid ancestors
Prof Paul Wilson, Dr Steve Bohaty, Dr Anya Crocker (UoS)

Can silicate weathering regulate atmospheric CO2 during periods of rapid climate change? Testing the negative feedback hypothesis in the geological record
Dr Christopher Pearce, Dr Mike Clare, Dr Steve Bohaty, Prof Gavin Foster

The role of atmospheric CO2 in the first great ice ages: insights from very high-resolution boron isotope records
Prof Gavin Foster, Prof Paul Wilson, Dr Thomas Chalk, Prof Eelco Rohling

Understanding the causes of millennial scale geomagnetic change: A benchmark record and new global synthesis for late Pleistocene
Dr Chuang Xuan, Prof Paul Wilson, Dr Monika Korte (GFZ, Germany)

Coastal impacts for climate scenarios that exceed 2°C warming
Dr Philip Goodwin, Dr Ivan Haigh, Prof Robert Nicholls (UoS)


Research Staff

List of all staff members in Palaeoceanography and Palaeoclimate
Staff MemberPrimary Position
Shir AkbariResearch and Teaching Technician (Palynology)
Charlotte Emily AldredPostgraduate research student (NERC CDT in Oil and Gas)
Steven BohatyAssociate Professor in Stratigraphy and Palaeoceanography
Sargent BrayResearch Scientist
Anieke BrombacherResearch Fellow
Rachel BrownPostgraduate research student (SPITFIRE)
Matthew ChadwickPostgraduate research student (SPITFIRE)
Thomas B ChalkLeverhulme Research Fellow
Anya CrockerResearch Fellow in Palaeoclimatology
Michael Stanley DalePostgraduate research student
Elwyn De La VegaPostgraduate research student
Amy L ElsonPostgraduate research student
Thomas H G EzardAssociate Professor in Evolutionary Ecology
John James FieldingPostgraduate research student
Gavin FosterProfessor of Isotope Geochemistry
David M FriesPostgraduate research student, Marie Curie Initial Training Network
Samantha GibbsRoyal Society University Research Fellow
Philip GoodwinLecturer
Ian HardingAssociate Professor in Palaeontology
Gabrielle HellioNERC Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Max J HolmströmPostgraduate research student
Claire HuckPostdoctoral Research Associate
Gabriella E JardinePostgraduate research student
Amy M JewellPostgraduate research student (SPITFIRE)
Yuxi JinVisiting scholar
Lorna KearnsPostgraduate research student (SPITFIRE)
Alan KempProfessor
Jens C KrügerPostgraduate research student, Marie Curie Research Fellow
Tereza KunkelovaPostgraduate research student (SPITFIRE)
Georgios MargaritisPostgraduate research student
John MarshallProfessor of Earth Science
Laura E MearsPostgraduate research student
Harriet R MoorePostgraduate research student
John MurrayEmeritus Professor of Geology
Matthew NicholsPostgraduate research student
Gwen Owen JonesPostgraduate research student (SPITFIRE)
Richard PearceResearch Fellow
Kelly ReynoldsPostgraduate research student (SPITFIRE)
Libby RobinsonPostgraduate research student (SPITFIRE)
EJ RohlingProfessor of Ocean and Climate Change
Alex Searle-BarnesResearch Technician in Geochemistry
Rachael ShuttleworthPostgraduate research student (SPITFIRE)
Megan SpencerStable Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry Laboratory Technician
Christopher StandishResearch Fellow
Nichola StrandbergPostgraduate research student (SPITFIRE)
Victoria TaylorPostgraduate Research Student (SPITFIRE)
Tim E van PeerResearch Fellow
Rebecca WalleyPostgraduate research student (SPITFIRE)
Ross WhitefordPostgraduate research student
Jessica H WhitesideAssociate Professor of Geochemistry
Paul WilsonHead of Palaeoceanography and Palaeoclimate Research Group, Professor
Chuang XuanLecturer

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